I’ve been noticing lately that there seems to be a lot of musings going ‘round about transforming your life by getting out of your field of work and trying something else.
When you’re feeling trapped and unfulfilled by the consequences of your previous professional and work choices, thinking about making a change is probably a go-to default.
The numbness in you that grows as your joy-switch keeps tripping off starts reaching epic proportions. You become one of the multitudes of the Disengaged.
Jumping off the conventional well-beaten path and running off down some other forest trail or hitching a ride on a boxcar going someplace else starts sounding mighty good. This durned road you’re on is not taking you where you want to be and it sucks.
IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING A DIFFERENT JOB
This career-changing thing is not the same thing as changing jobs – i.e., doing the same thing you have gotten good at doing and moving (or being moved by circumstance or desire) to another company or a different division or some other project.
For that one, you’re just doing the same dance, only in a different place.
The traditional job market has all kinds of practical solutions for making changes if you’re wanting to do more of the same.
If you’re are an experienced knowledge-worker and a leader of some sort in corporate-world, there are “recruitment consultants” — intrepid headhunters looking for new trophies for their bag – as well as the CV/resume dance and the professional networking thing.
If you’re in the helping or service or sales professions, there are many online jobsites and job alert services and all sorts of folks in your own network that can help you find other places to do the work you’re already doing.
Creative sorts have similar resources in their own worlds as well.
Making a job change can take a tremendous lot of hustle and is likely to rearrange your life in many ways.
However, it is a truism:
Doing the same thing you’ve always done is
likely to get you the same results you’ve always gotten.
That is not a problem if you like the results you’ve been getting. It does become a problem if you don’t like those results.
WOULD YOU RATHER DO DIFFERENT?
The people to whom the career-change advice is aimed are the ones who may have accomplished some good stuff already.
After working in a field for a while and getting some accomplishments under their belts, they are feeling like their heart has gone missing somehow.
The drag starts getting heavy on them and the “good life” they may have built is just not satisfactory.
The thing that used to excite these folks has gotten stale. Maybe they are feeling ready to get growing in some other direction, having already explored one slice of the world as thoroughly as they feel they want to.
One lovely example of this mindset (along with some hard-won insights) comes from Felicia Ricci, a self-described “five-trick pony who loves to make creative mischief.”
Ricci is an author, performer, voice teacher and entrepreneur, who presented this lively talk, “How To Change Careers When You’re Lost” at the TEDxYale talk-fest in 2015.
Her writerly point is that your life is always in “draft mode.” You can revise, revise, and revise until you get it to your kind of “right.”
Ricci’s takeaway tips:
- Ignore the odds. (If you’re innovative, the odds will never be in your favor. Do it anyway.)
- Embrace the fear. (Revisions can be terrifying and stressful and you will freak out.)
- Don’t decide by thinking, decide by doing.
HELP IS ALL AROUND YOU
Are you one of those who are looking for different?
There are career-change books, articles, and online videos and podcasts by assorted gurus and mavens and academic sorts which are loaded with information about the how of it all if you’re inclined to get into it.
There are numerous profiling tests and lots of systems to help you figure it out as well as lots of people who are willing to help you in your search for the new work-you.
A fairly new profession – career coach – has bloomed in the business jungle within the last couple of decades. You can buy the services of a native guide to lead you through the tangled, messy landscape of Change and hack your way through all that confusion.
There’s a fascinating collection of success stories put together by Careershifters, probably the largest more-than-profit online organization dedicated to helping people who are ready to reach for their own transformation.
This London-based group grew from a brain-seed planted by social entrepreneur Richard Alderson, who is a career-shifter his own self.
Click on this button to access the stories:
The button also takes you to the Careershifters website that introduces you to a bunch of resources and practical tools that can help you start your own life-meaning revision work.
GO OR NO?
There are, evidently, many ways to reach for transformation and make your own changes happen. (There sure are a lot of studies and lists and exercises and practices and all of that out there.)
Among all of this information, you’re sure to find moves that will resonate with you as you think and talk and do your way through the process of getting to your transition point.
The only one who can stop you from starting at this point is you.
So…what? No? Go?
As a person who is always looking for new wonderments to try, my own suggestion is that you have some fun and play around with various ideas until you find something that hits a major chord in you.
Maybe you’ll be lucky and there will several. Cool!
You may also want to take another look at all of the fun things or the things you do very, very well in that work you’ve been complaining about.
You can try mashing up all of these bits into something that’s unique to you.
Go forth and play, you!
My other suggestion is that you deliberately do all of this shimmying around as a replacement for that groaning, moaning and whining you’ve been doing.
Whining and acting helpless and hopeless is a habit, you know. All the smarty-pants guys in lab coats tell us that if you replace one habit with another habit, you’re likely to lose that first habit.
If you replace that old poor-thing-me habit with this career-shift project, you’ll be way too busy trying to make the puzzle pieces fit and then working out (and trying) ways to make them work for you that you’ll have no time left over for beating yourself up or feeling frustrated or put-upon.
Your energy level will probably go up because you’re interested in SOMETHING again and that interest just naturally will call up more energy you can use for more playing.
Once you get started doing this stuff, plans and projects and other moves – big and small — will become evident. As you work on those, they may even evolve into other things that are particularly intriguing.
You may start to notice opportunities to try out some of those wild and crazy ideas you’ve been growing. You may even try to do them.
Who knows? Something wondrous could come of it.
HOW TO FAIL AT TRYING TO TRANSFORM YOURSELF
I found one particularly interesting list in my Google-wanderings on a website, Project Management Hacks, that is put together by career advisor Bruce Harpham.
This list takes a look at the five mistakes people make when they are trying to do a career-shift. According to Harpham, these moves are most likely to lead to staying in the suck.
DO NOTHING. Dreaming and fuming in frustration does not get you out of there.
COMPLAIN. Self-expression and self-pity parties are helpful for pinpointing the problem, but it doesn’t do anything else (and probably turns off a lot of other people or brings them down).
RESIGN IMMEDIATELY. Taking off for parts unknown without a basic plan or any knowledge of your next steps is a pretty sure recipe for failure.
UNDERESTIMATE THE CHALLENGE. It’s hard enough trying to find a new place to do the same thing you’ve always done. Trying to break into another field is a heck of a lot more complicated.
For one thing, there are all of those other guys who have been doing what you want to do quite well, thank you. What does a wanna-be like you have to offer? (HINT: That’s where finding a something that is uniquely you will come in handy.)
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF TRAP. Why re-invent the wheel when it’s already been done for you?
Go talk to the people who have succeeded in doing what you want to do. Pick other brains and pay attention to what they say. Fit the lessons you find into that puzzle you’re building.
There are a heck of a lot of excellent people out there and some of their thoughts can be pretty amazing. Maybe one of their brainstorms might work for you or spark a good one of your own.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton who founded another interesting online enterprise, “The School of Life,” points out, “When work is not going well, it’s useful to remember that our identities stretch beyond what is on the business card, that we were people long before we became workers – and will continue to be human once we have put down our tools forever.”
That’s a good thing to keep in mind, I am thinking.
Oh…and I do have one other suggestion: When you’re looking to do something different, don’t forget to pay attention to the crabby voice inside you that’s been snarking and side-swiping at you as you’ve been busy sinking into the suck.
It is probably the most important voice of all.
Sit your Inner Self down and let it give your Inner Dummy a good talking-to or three. Listen. Let the complaints wind down and look for what’s hidden in there underneath all that vinegar and vitriol.
Pay attention. You may be amazed at what it has to say.
Here’s a poem:
LET THEM HAVE….
Let them have their pie charts and their checklists.
Let them have their numbers two by two.
Let them have their second-guesses and procedures.
Keep the secret thing that makes you you.
Let them have their gurus and assistants.
Give them their assistants’ assistants too.
Let them have their politics and issues.
Don’t give up the drive inside of you.
Let them have their offices and meetings,
Their naysayers, their oracles, their orators.
All their mavens and spin-meisters too.
Keep your vision and your passion and your promise.
Listen to the heartsong inside of you.
by Netta Kanoho
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